Grady Sizemore’s Dave Kingman Impression

The Grady Sizemore that fantasy owners fell in love with — the swift, slugging center fielder with perennial 30-30 potential — is gone. Microfracture surgery on Sizemore’s left knee, as well as a right knee contusion that put him back on the DL in May, has robbed the 28-year-old of his once-plus speed. But Grady’s wheels aren’t the only thing that’s missing in 2011: his previously superb strike-zone judgment is gone, too. Sizemore is doing a convincing Dave Kingman impression, slugging the ball when he makes contact but chasing pitches and punching out plenty in the process.

During his major league career, Sizemore has a near-11 percent walk rate, a 23 percent strikeout rate and an Isolated Power eclipsing .200. But in 2011, Sizemore’s pop is the only part of that equation that has remained the same. He has a .215 ISO, but he’s drawing walks less than six percent of the time while striking out in around 32 percent of his at-bats.

Not surprisingly, Sizemore is chasing far more pitches off the plate than he typically has. His outside swing rate is 30 percent this year, slightly above the major league average. Compare that figure to his previous years in the majors:

Sizemore’s outside swing rate, as a percentage of the major league average:

2004: 90%
2005: 82%
2006: 78%
2007: 80%
2008: 77%
2009: 71%
2010: 113%
2011: 101%

He hacked during an injury-shortened 2010, and he’s still swinging at out-of-zone pitches much more than he used to in 2011. At the same time, Sizemore’s contact rate has dipped to a career-low 71 percent this season. Fastballs, sliders, curveballs, changeups — it doesn’t matter. Sizemore is whiffing often:


Pitch F/X data from TexasLeaguers.com

It’s hard to say that Sizemore been unlucky, with a BABIP in the .290s. It’s just that all those extra Ks are killing his batting average, and those outside swings have put a big dent in his walk rate. Sizemore hasn’t been a terrible hitter this year, but a .226/.293/.441 line that’s exactly average once park and league adjustments are made isn’t what owners had in mind for the former superstar’s comeback season.

With Sizemore showing poor plate discipline and having yet to steal a base, his ownership rate has fallen under 70 percent in Yahoo leagues and sits in the mid-eighties in ESPN leagues. It’s possible that Sizemore is just rusty, and he’ll start to work the count better and make more contact in the months to come as he gets regular at-bats. Sizemore didn’t take a swing in the majors after mid-May last year, and his 2011 season started late and was interrupted by another DL stint. Given his medical record, however, regular ABs aren’t guaranteed.

Truth be told, he has to rediscover that patient approach and connect more often to stay relevant in fantasy leagues. Without steals, Sizemore needs walks and a decent batting average to retain value.




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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.


9 Responses to “Grady Sizemore’s Dave Kingman Impression”

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  1. Lewis says:

    Finished.

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  2. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    No he is not finished. The entire league looks more like Kingman. Sizemore more than most, but he has some years left.

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    • kick me in the GO NATS says:

      Sizemore is just a year removed from losing most of the season to injury. he will be back to 3-4WAR form next season. This year he will finish with 1.5 WAR or so. He is not done. He is no star anymore, that is probably fair to say.

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    • Guy That Agrees with Lewis says:

      Also think he’s finished.

      Forever irrelevant in a standard 10 or 12 team league.

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  3. Adam W says:

    He still has value in very deep leagues or leagues that force a CF if you can make up the ground in steals elsewhere.

    @Go Nats: WAR is more of a topic for the mothership, but a big chunk of Sizemore’s value was tied to his ability to play superb defense in CF. I think you have to consider how the knee issues will impact that going forward, a la Carlos Beltran. A below-average defensive CF or average defensive corner guy with a wOBA ~.320 is not hard to come by.

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  4. lexomatic says:

    How about supplementing this with the admittedly small comparable sample of players who have missed as much consecutive time Sizemore has, and how their stats have changed year 1 of comeback, year 2 etc.
    Maybe war-time service playing time issues?

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  5. sirvlciv says:

    As someone who is hesitating to finally cut bait on Sizemore, I’ve been watching his progression all season, and that knee contusion took a lot out of him. I’d much rather look at his stats before the contusion (when he was hitting .282/.333/.641) and after (.185/.264/.296).

    Here’s where I wish we could look at splits on subsets of the season ;-)

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    • mcbrown says:

      Take the plunge – you’ll feel so much better. Seriously though, it depends on the depth of your league and who’s on the waiver wire. In a 10 man 5×5 redraft league, I see players like Logan Morrison, Aubrey Huff, Ryan Ludwick… Is Sizemore realistically going to be so much better than any of them that he is worth the risk at this point?

      I dropped him recently in favor of Huff, and honestly I feel good about it. I think Grady will turn it around next year, but his accelerating strikeout rate post-contusion is a big red flag to me. He’s not suffering from bad luck – he’s just not the same hitter he was pre-contusion, small sample size or not.

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      • sirvlciv says:

        10 man?? I can’t play in a league that shallow. 12 teamer with IF and 4 OFs is my bare minimum.

        If I dropped Sizemore, it’d be for Rajai Davis, Nyjer Morgan, etc.

        And… boom, he hits an HR in his first at bat tonight (on my bench).

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